History of Russia
Russian Revolutions

What was the cause of the Russian Revolution in 1991?

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2010-04-16 00:27:01

By summer 1991, the attempted economic and democratic reforms

initiated by the Soviet president Gorbachev in 1985 and known as

perestoika (rebuilding) and glasnost (openness)

stalled amid economic chaos, social crisis and political turmoil.

With Soviet Union on the brink of disintegration, and days before a

planned signing of a New Union Treaty by some of the Soviet

republics in august 2007, a group of Communist hardliners from the

Gorbachev government attempted to seize power, oust Gorbachev,

reverse the reforms and prevent the formal breakup of the Soviet


Gorbachev was pronounced unfit for duties, state of emergency

was declared and major cities were flooded with troops. The

unexpectedly strong resistance by the pro-democracy forces in

Moscow, a decisive stance by the populist president of the Russian

Federation, Boris Yeltsin, and defections by some Army and police

troops caused the hardliners to waver and abandon their plans. The

leaders of the coup were arrested after three days, Yeltsin gained

new power and popularity and outlawed the Communist party,

Gorbachev's influence was diminished, and the USSR promptly

disintegrated into many independent states, loosely united by

economic and political ties. Of these newly independent states,

Russia was by far the largest, and has since been synonymous with

the former Soviet Union.

That said, the term "revolution" is rarely used relative to the

events of 1991. The August events are referred to as the

putsch or coup. The aftermath was seen as a boost to the

pro-democracy and anti-Communist forces in Russia, but the

long-term consequences for Russia were mixed and are still being

argued about.

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